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current of spectre-ships, premonitory warnings of some vessel's loss.
In Dana's ? "Buccaneer,” a spectre-ship appears. Lee, the pirate, carries a lady to sea, who jumps overboard, and her horse is thrown alive after her. On the anniversary of this deed, the phantom-ship and horse appear.
“A ship! and all on fire! hull, yards, and mast,
The third time the vision comes, it sinks, and the horse takes its place.
Irving ? tells of a spectral boat, seen in the Hudson. "The prevalent opinion connected it with the awful fate of Ramhout van Dam, of graceless memory." "He had danced and drank until midnight (Saturday), when he entered his boat to return home. He was warned that he was on the verge of Sunday morning, but he pulled off, nevertheless, swearing he would not land until he reached Spiting Devil if it took him a month of Sundays. He was never seen afterward, but may be heard, plying his oars, being the Flying Dutchman of the Tappan sea, doomed to ply between Kakiot and Spiting Devil until the day of judgment.”
Like the Palatine, 3 is the Packet Light, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The packet was wrecked, with loss of life, near Prince Edward's Island. When a storm is threatened from that quarter, a ball of fire emerges from the sea, rises, sways about and expands, becoming a burning vessel, then sinks and disappears. 1 Poems of R. H. Dana. 2 Chronicles of Wolfert's Roost, Chap. 2. 3 Capt. Hall.--Adrift in the Ice Fields.
“The lumbermen of the St. John tell with bated breath of an antique French caravel, which sails up the Cadelia falls where no steamer or sail-vessel dare follow. And the farmers and fishermen of Chester Bay still see the weird, unearthly beam which marks the spot where the privateer Leach, chased by an overwhelming English force, was hurled heavenward by the desperate act of one of her own officers."
A Phantom ship 1 is seen at times at Cap d'Espoir, in Gaspé Bay, Gulf of St. Lawrence. Lights are seen on it, and it is crowded with soldiers. On the bowsprit stands an officer, pointing shoreward with one hand, with a female on the other arm. Suddenly the lights go out, a scream is heard, and the ship sinks. It is said to be the ghost of the flagship of a fleet sent to reduce the French forts by Queen Anne—which fleet was wrecked here, and all in it lost.
Moore ? wrote a poem describing a spectre-ship seen at times in the vicinity of Deadman's Island, where wrecks were once common :
"To Deadman's Isle, on the eye of the blast,
A Chinese form of the story is told by Dennys. A party of tiger-hunters found a horned serpent in a tiger's cage near Foochow. They shipped it to Canton, but during the voyage, lightning struck the cage and split it, the serpent escaping. As he rapidly consumed the cargo of rice, the master offered a thousand dollars to any one who would kill the monster; but two sailors attempting the task were killed by the serpent's noxious breath, and, finally, the junk was abandoned. It is still believed to cruise about the coast, and knowing natives will not board a derelict junk.
1 Le Moine.-Chronicles of the St. Lawrence, p. 36. 2 T. Moore.-Phantom Ship of Deadman's Isle. 3 Folk-lore of China.
Ibu Batuta 1 tells of a "Ship full of Lanterns," which appears near the Maldive Islands. It was formerly a demon, to whom a virgin was sacrificed, but who has no power at present. He says he saw the ship, and that people drove it away by chanting the Koran and beating gongs.
We may even find earlier traditions of spectral ships.
We first find a fully-developed legend of phantombarks in the Sagas. A certain Geiroöd sets adrift a boat, after he lands, with the words, “Go hence, in the power of the evil spirits"; and thus the spectral ship has since cruised.
During the plague 3 in Europe, in Justinian's time, people said that spectral brazen barks, with black and headless men as crews, were seen off infected ports, and this is the first appearance of the phantom-ship.
There is an old Venetian legend, of 1339, of the ring with which the Adriatic was first wedded, that alludes to a spectral ship. During a storm, a fisherman was required to row three men, first to certain churches, then out to the entrance of the port. There a huge Saracen galley was seen steering in, in the storm, with frightful demons on board. These three caused the spectral craft to sink, thus saying the city. On leaving the boat, a ring
1 Voyages, 126, ch. XIX.
* Sanuti.–Vita dei Duci Veneti, q. by Mrs. Jameson, Sacred and Legendary Art.
was given to the boatman, and by it these men were ascertained to be St. Mark, St. George and St. Nicholas. In the Venetian Academy is a painting, by Giorgione, of this spectral ship, with a demon crew, who, in terror of the Saints, jump overboard, or cling affrighted to the rigging, while masts Alame with fire and cast a lurid glare on the water.
Such are the many legends current among sailors and seafaring folk, of phantom ships, spectral boats, and finally of the Flying Dutchman. Spectres, apparitions and ghosts, as we have seen, are as abundant at sea as on land, and it requires no greater effort of the imagination to see a ghostly ship than to see a ghostly shipman. Many would and have argued, in fact, that the spectral bark exists only in the imagination of the sailor, created as a natural accompaniment to those weird lights, often seen before a storm. It is true in one sense that these ghostly barks are none other than the nautical manifestations of the same restless spirit that wanders on shore as the wild huntsman, the headless horseman, or the ghostly night-walker. A curse is, in these cases, supposed to be pronounced on the restless spirit, and so here, one of the first alleged causes of the curse upon the ceaseless wandering spectral ship is murder and piracy at sea, and the whole story is the type of that of the Wandering Jew on land.
THE LAST WHALE
[From "The Log of the Arethusa," BY CAPTAIN William Hussey Macy.]
HE passage across the South Pacific Ocean is
monotonous and barren of incident. From
New Zealand to Cape Horn we had rugged weather and strong winds, for the most part fair for running on our course, at times blowing day after day, with the regularity of trades, again hauling a few points so as to trim for it on the other quarter, and in one or two instances increasing to a gale, so violent as to compel us to heave to for the safety of the ship. As we approached Cape Horn we again encountered the cutting hail squalls which seem almost peculiar to this part of the world, but with the wind aft, we did not mind them so much as when outward bound. Rolling off before the westerly gales with sufficient press of canvas on the ship to keep her well clear of the mountainous seas in chase of her, with everything well secured, and careful men at the wheel, we laughed at the weather now, and wondered at our own progress, as we counted off five, six, or seven degrees of longitude each day, and reckoned how many more days at this rate of sailing ere we should have room to edge away to the northward and begin to steal towards a milder climate. Degrees of longitude